Hit and Run

A new report by the Empower Foundation, a sex workers’ rights group in Thailand, offers a more nuanced picture of the country’s sex work industry – a well-developed, perhaps world-famous, and now increasingly legitimate sector for many. Hit & Run: Sex Workers' Research on Anti-trafficking in Thailand is the result of a year-long survey implemented by sex workers among sex workers, to uncover the state of the industry. The report finds that sex workers are better off and better connected than many thought. Sex workers have access to hi-tech tools (e.g. smart phones) and use them to stay connected and safe; migration is part of the culture of sex work, and often helpful/voluntary (i.e. sex ‘trade’ not ‘trafficking’); and the average sex worker makes enough money to comfortably take care of his/her family. Of course it’s not positive all the time for everyone. But anti-trafficking groups and initiatives in Southeast Asia are a dime a dozen with many ineffective, oppressive, or all together useless. Everyone from Nicholas Kristof to Ashton Kutcher is trying to “save” girls and women and while these efforts may be well-meaning they tend to erase critical nuances in the issue and drown out the voices and agencies of sex workers themselves. “There are more women in the Thai sex industry being abused by anti-trafficking practices than there are women exploited by traffickers,” Empower director Chantawipa Apisuk said.  Via Nation Multimedia.